My readers know that I am an ardent admirer of Empedocles. About twenty years ago, I made a pilgrimage to visit his birthplace, Agrigento in southern Sicily, where the ancient Valley of the Temples is situated. I have written about him for magazines and incorporated his life and works into one non-fiction book, The Sign of the Quatrefoil, as well as my novel, The Griffin in the Valley.
In Meditations 12.3, Marcus writes, “Make yourself like Empedocles’ Sphere, ‘All round, and in its joyous rest reposing,’ - striving to live only the life that belongs to you here and now, then you will live out the rest of your days with peace and kindness, at peace with the divine spark within you” (which he calls your Daimon).
In 8.41 he refers again the Empedocles’ Sphere saying, “Neither fire, nor iron, nor a tyrant, nor abuse, touches it in any way. A sphere once forms remains round and true.”
In 11.12 he declares that, “The spherical form of the soul maintains its form when neither stretching itself out towards anything outside itself nor contracting itself inwards, and when it is neither dispersed outwards nor shrinking back into itself, but is illuminated by light, by which it sees the truth, the truth of all things and the truth within itself.” Here, the image of the Empedoclean Sphere appears to merge with that of the Sun shining its pure light onto objects without being defiled by them.
Quotes from Marcus Aurelius about the Sun:
“The Sun appears to pour itself down, and indeed its light pours in all directions, but the stream does not run out. This pouring is linear extension: that is why its beams are called rays, because they radiate in extended lines.” (From Meditations).
“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the Sun. If you do not, the Sun will soon set, and you with it.” (From The Emperor’s Handbook).